Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Big Adoption Series - Chapter 11

The next year and a half was a whirlwind of diapers. And spit-up.

Our Ruby girl was a spitter and a screamer and it's easy to see now that those two things may well have been connected.

I wish I could say that Two was just an intensified, saturated One, but I knew from our first week home with Princess Pink that this was a whole new ballgame.I was wholly unprepared for the brand-newborness of our girl. My only frame of reference was a five-month-old and, in the grand scheme of things, five months is a lifetime.What struck me most was how much she slept through the day. What struck me second-most was how much she didn't sleep at night.

I rued the first-time mom of a newborn, "sleeping when the baby sleeps". That was one blessed moment that I was clearly not intended to experience. My experience included a seventeen-month old trying desperately to converse with me like an adult. My experience included wringing my hands over the sheer impossibility of coordinating his daily nap with one of Ruby Girl's. Of course, after months of banging my head against the wall (you think I'm being figurative...) her sleep schedule locked into place precisely when he decided that he was too Big for naps.

I know, I know. It's nothing new, this mommy thing. Naps are nothing newsworthy, and though I didn't fully understand it then, it makes all the sense in the world now - Naptime is the Holy Grail of every Mama under the sun. It's a worthy conquest, but all too often, it eludes us.

Over the course of that first year, our baby girl learned to sleep like a champ. She sucked every bottle dry, then spit it right back at us. She endured prods and pokes for this condition of hers and for her oversized noggin. She was vocal and chunky. She was an attention hog and aloof, tickled pink and surly, impatient and placid and all of it was subject to change without warning. She was an emotional, smoochable, made-my-heart-skip-a-beat, beautiful girl.

Just a few weeks after her first birthday we moved to our farm in the country. We packed up our toddlers and introduced them to a dream. It was around that time that things began to settle a bit. The days were crazier than ever, to be sure, but the little people were gaining their sea legs. We were only diapering one bum. We were done with bottles. Before we even noticed it happening, we had carved a groove.

It's funny how just when all the ruffled feathers are smooth again, when the routine is down to a science, that itch comes 'round.

You know the itch.

You don't know the itch?

The itch is what makes a girl who craves peace and quiet and serenity dial up the phone and order more crazy. "I'll take a super-sized order of uncertainty with a side order of chaos, please!"

We were ready to add another one to the brood.

We had talked it all to death, this decision of where Number Three would be found. (Every single time I ask our caseworker to choose for us and every single time, she says no. Apparently there are rules about these things.)

All we knew for sure was that Number Three would be black. And I'm sure some of you are saying right now, "Oooh! That's not politically correct!", but the choices were America or Haiti or Ethiopia, so tell me, how would you summarize?

I have this thing, you see, about balancing the browns of this family. Angelina has it to, or so I hear, so it must be legit. Our thinking was, we eventually wanted to adopt one more Asian child and one more dark-skinned child. I wanted someone for everyone to identify with. It must. be. balanced. A child from Korea would surely be a boy, as couples with both genders already in their families are not able to choose, and boys are more readily available. I would like the girls to share their heritage, as well. I was seeing a second dark-skinned little girl in our future. Sisters who would be close in age.

Over the next months, Haiti became unrealistic due to internal issues within the country. Our case worker asked us if we planned to adopt from Korea again and of course, I told her we were open to it. We were open to most anything.

As these things tend to do, the thought of Korea wormed its way into my head. I began obsessing over additional technicalities of various programs that I will not bore you with here.

One last call with our case worker sealed the deal. There were three different boys in Korea waiting to be placed, for various reasons. These boys were getting older, with every passing day. They were being rejected for reasons that were, by and large, not even related to them. And their increasing age was only aggravating the issue. She told me about all three and we began praying.

Very quickly we knew that one of those boys in particular was meant to be ours. We asked a lot of questions and we embraced the uncertainties that would be packed up and sent along with his little shoes and his hanbok. We had learned with Calvin that even "healthy" babies may not be entirely so, and we knew for sure that adopting from a third-world country, such as Haiti or Ethiopia, would be rife with uncertainty.

All I knew was that we had found our son. Our Number Three. Our Silas.

Long ago, someone said these words to me, "Only God knows what your family picture looks like." Those words are etched in my brain, and I have stepped back and watched, in humility and wonder, as God leads each of our children to our hearts. Now, when people ask that irksome question, "Why didn't you adopt all of your children from the States?" I tell them the truth - Two of our children were in Korea. It's just the way it is. It can't be helped, and why should it be?

Only after the decision had been made did we request photos. I did not know if it would be possible to think clearly after looking into a brand new pair of almond eyes.

Imagine my surprise in seeing that his eyes were not really so "almond" after all. As Calvin says it best, he has almond eyes, Silas has pistachio eyes and Ruby has...coconut eyes.

Little dude had eyes wider than the sky. He looked a bit Hispanic, if I'm being honest.

I loved it.

I love it.

I love that each of our children look so different, that they have cultural genetics that are unique only to them. It turns out that the heritage of Siley's birth father is unknown. It's part of that tangle of uncertainty. We know he is from Southeast Asia, and that's all we know. He is not Korean, though his birth mom is.

I wonder sometimes what that will be like for my boy, to never know for sure where he is from. I can only imagine that it will be difficult, the not knowing. The speculating. But if there is one thing I know for sure, it is that God's grace covers these things. I believe it will be plenty.

I believe my baby Pie, zipped up in footie-jammies and sound asleep in his crib tonight, will come to learn what we are all learning together - God's plan is important. It is special and exciting. It is worth every day in wait, every ride across the sky, every tear and every heartache. It's even worth every loss. His plan is so much bigger than all of us, and I whisper these truths into tiny ears every night.

Thank you for making Silas my son. Thank you for knowing we were just what the other needed. Thank you for every hard road that brought all of us here. Thank you for your Love.


Join me here next Wednesday for Big Adoption Series - Chapter 12

(To catch up on Chapters 1-10, click here and start from the bottom.)


  1. I loved that quote..."Only God knows what your family picture looks like". He was pretty creative with yours. What a beautiful blend of precious! I love these stories. They bless my heart so:)

  2. Is there any chance you can just keep on adopting, so that we can keep reading your beautiful series? pretty please? :)

  3. Honestly Shannan, I'm shocked that your kids don't have big bites taken out of them. They are all so edible!
    Each week I am so blessed when reading this series. It truly is a miracle and clearly God's plan for all five of you.

  4. I am so happy you have included us in this journey. It is such a joy to see a plan come from God that is so much better than one we could have put together. These babies were meant for you before they were even conceived. How cool is that. And I could die over those baby pictures. Every day has to be a smooch-fest!
    When we meeting #4?? I'll keep the other 3 when you go to pick-up me!

  5. love these posts!we are just beginning the adoption process...{applied for China}Only God knows how our story goes!How fun it is to read others {stories!}.

  6. Oh Shannan. I love this series, I love this post. you are so wise.

    I hope you continue to order up more and more crazy, and continue to write about it. The world needs it!

  7. I'm thinking I should have said "UNIVERSE!"

    um, can I just say how ADORABLE those babies are. Killing me. I almost couldn't pay attention to what you were saying, I was distracted by baby chub. I muscled through it though

  8. All I can say after reading this is... Ahhhhhh sniff sniff... Love it.

  9. I have really enjoyed reading about Silas this past year. I remember those dark snowy days of February and March anticipating his blog debut. He has made me smile more than a few times.

  10. Your lil guy came from God's mighty master plan...his heritage is a bit of Heaven...

    If you self publish, I will pre-order copies-yup, you need to publish.

  11. Thank you for telling the story of how God is putting your family together! You are such a good writer! (I found myself rereading some of your sentences because I just loved the way you expressed things. :-)) God has blessed our family through adoption, too. I loved reading your story and in the process remembering the way He led us, also. Enjoy those little ones ~ they sure grow up quickly!
    God bless!

  12. Your family picture is, well, in a word, BEAUTIFUL!

    LOVE to read your writing, it's just well, BEAUTIFUL!

  13. This was lovely as usual! I am hoping now that we know how each came into your beautiful family that this series isn't coming to an end!!!! What ever will I do with myself on Wednesday nights....
    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the picture of Ruby on the blanket with all her amazing baby chubs for all the world to see!!! So sweet!
    Okay, so I have the baby itch sooo bad right now. I need a baby fix!
    Don't you love checking in on the babies before you sleep....they are so sweet when they are quiet and peaceful! ; )

  14. God has certainly knit together a beautiful, unique family for you! Thank you for sharing! btw, we passed our homestudy and made an office remix video to celebrate. Blessings,

  15. Hey! Good to hear from you!! As always, your post was wonderful. You need to write that book. But in the meantime, send me an e-mail about house and job news. xo

  16. Girl,

    I have some insight! We fostered a teenager who was adopted from Korea by an American family who decided two years later that they actually didn't want her at all. I digress. She was not full-blooded Korean. We talked many times about this and the thing that bothered her most about the unknown was choosing a mate. It was uncertain whether or not she was Korean/Black or Korean/White. So in our small very black and white town, as a teenager she just didn't know who to date. The Korean population had not exactly exploded in small town S.C. She eventually went off to college and met the man of her dreams. He happens to be white. They have the most beautiful almond-eyed boys you have ever laid your eyes on. I hope this helps a little. It very well may be of no concern at all to Silas, but who knows!

    Love the adoption series! I am soaking up every word like a sponge in a sink full of suds and water.

    Joy K.

  17. I love every chapter of this series. I love looking at the baby pictures of your adorable children. Thanks for sharing with us.

  18. thank you for sharing this with all of us.

  19. Only God knows what your family picture looks like.. I just love it.
    Could your kiddos get any cuter?? Seriously!

  20. Order more crazy? Love that! You have the cutest heaping pile of crazy I've ever seen and Miss R's leg chunks about make me crazy in that picture. Must.chew.chunks.

  21. I remember ending a post many years ago on a now defunct blog, before we adopted, with the following statement, after talking about wondering what our child would look like: "I’ve spent the last year and a half staring at other people’s kids, wondering what they would look like in our family pictures. In the end I guess it’s the same as wondering what our biological child would look like. She’s going to look just like our daughter.”

    You're totally right - as soon as you see the first pictures, you think "Exactly!"

  22. Shannan...I love reading your adoption posts. The story of how you all came together to be a family just warms my heart...



  23. I love this story. You tell it so very well.

  24. LOVE IT!! There is nothing more fun than a baby girl that throws up all over you and then screams like a demon. If an adult did that we would never talk to them again. I love the picture of the two babies together. Can't wait to get the full Silas story.

  25. Great story! These children are and will continue to be blessed in your house.

  26. i love how when i'm reading your adoption series, the answers to the questions in the deepest part of my heart seep out. someone, in fact, was debating me over the choice to adopt "locally" or abroad. i had nothing wise or educated to say on the subject, except that somewhere inside i just know it doesn't really matter which option presents itself as most viable for our family. i loved how you put it that we don't choose what our family looks like. i love that you couldn't help which babies found their way to your heart. i love how you are just wide open to the possibilities. i feel that same way. i just pray and wait. pray and wait.

  27. I have been reading your blog for a while... when we brought home our 5 1/2 year old... someone sent me to read your post about Silas' day of injustices.... and boy, could I relate.

    Anyway, I thought it humorous when my husband's parents came to visit, that I mentioned this blog from up in their parts... and guess what... your father in law (I think) is in my father in law's sunday school class....what a hoot.

  28. I keep scrolling back up to the picture of Ruby's awesome baby arms. I think baby fats are without question my favorite thing on the planet.

  29. "Only God knows what your family picture looks like." This quote is perfect for me right now, I still don't know what our Ollie will bring, but I know God has a plan & it will be awesome!

    I love those babies & my Mom would gladly babysit when you get #4 - kids love her because she crafts all day long - no joke. I bought a HUGE bulletin board to help with these crafts & Aubrie makes 8 crafts a day - it's impossible to keep up with :) Also, my Aubrie was a screamer like Ruby - I have so many pictures just like yours with her screaming her head off - she slept through the night at 11 months - it was glorious!

  30. Oh Shannan..I just got bad news today (our baby is not coming home this year and we need to add another 2 months onto that wait time) and this made me better
    "God's plan is important. It is special and exciting. It is worth every day in wait, every ride across the sky, every tear and every heartache. It's even worth every loss. His plan is so much bigger than all of us"
    thank you friend.

  31. Beautiful!

    I especially love this: "God's plan is important. It is special and exciting. It is worth every day in wait, every ride across the sky, every tear and every heartache. It's even worth every loss. His plan is so much bigger than all of us, and I whisper these truths into tiny ears every night."

  32. I love seeing those little ones when they were so much tinier, my how they've grown through the years. So cute! And Siley Pie is a Cutie Pie, and I love pistachios! :)

  33. "God's plan", yes, it is worth anything and everything. When we lean on His everlasting arms for support, He will not disappoint!! I especially love Cal' description of their eyes!! And he is so right on!

  34. oh girl, i love all of the chub and the rolls in these photos, the very ache of the newbornness and the welding together, the seaming tight, of family. you're mothering so well. love e.

  35. Great post again, so forgive me for only commenting on your daughter sucking her two fingers and holding her ear. Our daughter does the exact same thing. Too funny! So enjoy your story, thanks for sharing.

  36. Oh for the love. For the love indeed. I don't think you realize what you are doing to all of us with these photographs, and word pictures. Your family is beauty full, and wonder full.

  37. You have an awesome life story to tell and you do it so doggone well! Your children are beautiful and have a wonderful set of parents who obvisouly love them no care about where they came from. Traci

  38. so encouraging. i LOVE your adoption series...only God knows what your family portrait will look like...grace abounds!

  39. Your family melts my heart! These pictures are precious Shannan!

  40. your family is beautiful...absolutely beautiful.

    I look forward to these posts each and every week....

  41. I am relieved to hear that I'm not the only mother whose sleep deprivation caused her to bang her head against the wall (and/or floor). I love babies. I don't cope well with lack of sleep. But I'm itching to do it again someday.
    They're totally worth it. Especially when they look at you with those eyes- of all different shapes.

  42. praise jesus.
    oh, i am loving these peeks into your family and their rich, diverse histories. i look up to you! your wisdom and strength inspire me.
    you are mentoring me, how about that! xo